How Polyamorous People Are Marking Commitment To Multiple Partners

How Polyamorous People Are Marking Commitment To Multiple Partners

Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy — when people have more than one sexual or romantic partner at once with all partners’ permission. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology found that one in nine single American adults had engaged in polyamory.

Sarah Brylinsky, a 34-year-old working in higher education in Ithaca, N.Y., is legally married to 36-year-old farm manager Brandon Brylinsky. Two years ago, on a camping trip a decade into their relationship, they met 35-year-old Matte Namer, the founder of a real estate firm.

All three of them fell in love.

The Brylinskys and Namer are polyamorous, which means they are open to romantic relationships with more than one person at a time. After meeting two years ago, they started going on dates together, and soon after, Namer moved in with the Brylinskys. Now, the three plan to have a child, and they want to make their relationship official so that they can be recognized by their community as a family.

But how do you make a relationship official when there are three people in it?

Polyamory is a form of consensual non-monogamy — when people have more than one sexual or romantic partner at once with all partners’ permission. A 2021 study in Frontiers in Psychology found that one in nine single American adults had engaged in polyamory.

In legal terms, polyamorous people are unable to marry all their of partners: It is illegal throughout the United States to marry more than one person at a time. Somerville, Mass., is thought to be the first U.S. city to legally recognize polyamorous domestic partnerships, which it started doing in 2020.

However, people like Namer and the Brylinskys are utilizing an option that symbolically, though not legally, binds all three of them: a commitment ceremony.

Commitment ceremonies are events that celebrate any number of people’s commitment to one another, and they can look many different ways, according to Connecticut-based marriage and family therapist Kristen C. Dew.

She’s seen some that “resemble the typical monogamous couples’ weddings,” she said, while others are parties or outdoor gatherings. She also said that “many opt for handfasting ceremonies,” or choose unique items as symbols of their love.

The ceremony that Namer and the Brylinskys are planning will be similar to a wedding. They’re discarding some traditions: They’ll have a cookie table instead of a cake, for example. But they will all make vows to one another. In addition, the Brylinskys will create a joint vow just for Namer, and vice versa, they said.

“We met Matte as a couple; there was a relationship that came before them, and it’s both important to establish that we made a family together and to acknowledge that we transitioned our existing relationship to make room for that,” Sarah said.

Ambyr D’Amato, a wedding planner based in New York, is helping to plan this ceremony. She said she has worked with several other polyamorous people on commitment ceremonies: In one of them, a couple that was already married waited at the end of the aisle, and the third person walked down the aisle to symbolically join them.

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